Kochi: The Vathuruthy old iron railway cross gates, the only one remaining in the state, would soon be history. The railways has initiated action to replace the four old manually-operated iron gates with automatic lifting barriers, a move that will help prevent the long queues of vehicles lined up when goods trains chug in or out of the Mattancharry Halt station.
“There are four gates at the rail cross, the only such ones existing in the state. Now it’s the token signaling system that is being followed here—which means the gate operator can unlock the key only after the train is at least one km away.
Further it takes a minimum of 15 minutes to open or shut the four gates manually. To worsen matters one of the personnel deployed here is a woman . All this blocks the western entry to the city for at least half-an-hour upon the arrival of a goods train,” Francis Chammani, a local resident said.
Ernakulam Area Manager P L Ashok Kumar said that the automatic lifting barriers was being set up as the railway proposed to increase the goods train services through the line, thanks to more freight business from the Mattancherry berth.
The demand for replacing the old railway gates was there for a while. Despite efforts by the union minister K V Thomas, the railways or the Kochi Corporation could not build a rail over-bridge there due to the objection raised by the Navy citing its proximity to the naval airport.